How are applications assessed?
Once we've received a planning application we will usually publicise the proposal so that people have the chance to express their views. This includes things like site notices and letters to neighbours and parish councils. Please note, not all applications submitted to us require public consultation.
The formal consultation period will normally last for 21 days. Anyone may comment on a planning application during this period. Written comments will be taken into account when we make a decision on the application, so long as they are relevant to the proposal and 'material' to the planning application.
If, having inspected the application, you wish to comment upon the application you can make your comments to us (a confirmation email will be sent); or you can send us an email to email@example.com (an automated response will be sent).
Your representations will be available for inspection on the planning register in accordance with the law and may be published on our website. Whilst there are exceptions to this legal requirement, which generally relate to personal information, they are limited. Should such information be contained within correspondence we reserve the right:
- to decline to make such correspondence publicly available; or
- to redact the relevant correspondence.
As such you should seriously consider the need to supply such information as part of any representation you may make. In the interests of economy an acknowledgment letter will not be sent for any comments received nor will you be notified of the decision of this application. Officers can not engage in correspondence or site visits with neighbours or third party as part of the formal consultation.
We will also consult other organisations such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, and Historic England in order that other important considerations and concerns are taken into account.
Many issues can be 'material considerations', but in broad terms these should relate to the use and development of land. As a general principle, the planning system works in the public interest and matters that affect solely private interests are not usually material considerations in planning decisions. However, each application is considered on its merits.
Negotiations during an application are an important part of the planning process, they can help allow us to respond to the needs of both applicants and interested parties, and are an important part of our aim to deliver good levels of customer service to all parties. They enable schemes to be amended and improved in order to;
- Address relevant concerns raised by consultees, neighbours, Town/Parish Councils and Councillors; and
- Allow the development to comply with planning policy or guidance
The facility to secure amendments to a proposal should not be regarded as an acceptable substitute to taking up pre-application advice from us, or the preparation of a properly thought through and prepared planning application.
In the event that planning officers consider that an amendment is necessary, the applicant will be invited to make that change. In order to provide certainty as to how amendments will be approached, and in order to minimise delays in reaching a decision, officers will:
- Not seek to negotiate on matters of detail where the development is considered unacceptable in principle;
- Only request or invite amendments that are minor, and able to be clearly identified and defined. We will not enter into potentially open ended negotiations, or where subsequent revisions are likely to become necessary;
- Seek changes that reduce the impact of the development, where re-consultation will generally not be necessary. In limited circumstances, at the discretion of officers, a change requiring re-consultation may be sought.
- Clearly set out what change needs to be made, and explain why that change is necessary;
- Set a suitable time limit for the submission of amended plans and request an extension of time for determining the application thereafter if necessary;
- Provide one opportunity for amendments to be made before reaching our decision;
- If an amendment would significantly change the nature or content of the scheme, you may be asked to withdraw the application and make a fresh submission. If the application is not withdrawn, a decision will be made on the basis of the application as it stands.
Planning officers usually decide smaller developments under delegated decision-taking powers. Larger and more controversial developments are often decided by our planning committee, the Regulatory Board.
The Regulatory Board meets at the Civic Centre about once a month, usually on a Wednesday at 7pm. If you are the applicant or agent or have made a written representation on a proposal, you have the right to speak at the Regulatory Board.
Register to speak at a Planning Meeting
You'll need to make sure you register with us if you want to speak. You need to do this no later than midday on the working day before the meeting. For example, for a meeting on a Wednesday evening you must register to speak by midday on the Tuesday.
You can register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by phoning 01474 337302, or by sending a letter to:
Committee & Electoral Services, Gravesham Borough Council, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 1AU
What happens next?
We usually have up to eight weeks to make a decision on minor applications, which include most householder cases, and up to 13 weeks for major development, such as large housing or business sites. Generally, once planning permission is granted, development must be started within three years. If work has not started by then, the applicant will probably need to reapply.
The National Planning Policy Framework places emphasis on the need for local planning authorities to approach decision-taking in a positive way to support the delivery of sustainable development. We work with applicants to secure developments that improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of our area.
The planning system is plan-led and any planning application must be determined in line with the development plan (Local and neighbourhood plans) unless other material considerations indicate otherwise.
We can consider whether otherwise unacceptable development could be made acceptable through the use of conditions or a planning obligation attached to a planning decision.